Dear Abby: Woman can't accept ex's new girlfriend

DEAR ABBY: I've been divorced from my husband of 18 years for two years, separated for three. I have encouraged my ex to get out and meet new people. (He stayed home and alone for about two years.) It must have been a New Year's resolution of his because I no longer receive random texts to ask how I'm doing or to make casual conversation.

When I asked him who she was, he replied, "Nobody." Of course, I know him well, and I knew he wasn't being truthful. He's 50; she's 25. I'm grossed out, mostly because our older daughter is 27. The younger one is 22. I know I should be happy for him, but I'm not.

We still celebrate holidays as a big, old, happy family, which I don't mind. We have grandchildren, and I want the holidays to be special. But I have no desire to celebrate them with someone who is barely older than my younger daughter. I know it likely won't go anywhere, but what the heck?

I'm in a happy relationship. Granted, I'm enjoying life and not planning my future or anything like that. My mind says one thing; my heart says another. Do I need therapy? Are these normal feelings? -- THROWN IN MONTANA

DEAR THROWN: It would be abnormal not to have "some" reaction to the new woman in your ex's life. That he's obscuring the truth from you tells me he may feel guilty about the age difference or worried you will be judgmental. Therapy may help you accept that he's now the captain of his fate, so it's no longer necessary for you to help him navigate the seas of life. It would be cheaper to simply let go, allow him to make some mistakes along the way and focus instead on your own present and future.

DEAR ABBY: My heart is heavy for my sister-in-law, "Becca," and her family. Her brother recently passed away. He'd been ill, but no one expected his death. To make matters worse, his wife didn't contact his family about his death for several days and had him cremated without notifying them. They learned about his death when his obit was posted on Facebook.

From what I've been told, his wife has had little to no contact with his family. Becca can't understand what could have been her problem. He was an only son and brother. They didn't have an opportunity to say goodbye; therefore, they don't have closure. His sister and mother are grief-stricken and angry.

I can only offer words of comfort and prayers. With so many unanswered questions behind all of this, what is the best way to offer comfort and support? Or should I just give them time? -- SO MUCH PAIN

DEAR SO MUCH PAIN: Please accept my condolences for your family's loss. Call Becca and her family often. Even better, deliver your words of comfort by visiting in person if she would appreciate the company. Offer to help with shopping for groceries, laundry -- whatever she might be too depressed to do herself right now. And THEN give her time to heal.

Expectant mom wants to scale back Christmas celebrations

DEAR ABBY: I just found out I'm pregnant with our third child, a "surprise" baby. We're due Christmas week, but we're scrambling to get our already stretched finances in order. We're trying to cut back on expenses by taking no vacations this year, budgeting food expenses and embracing second hand and hand-me-downs.

I told my husband I'd like to forgo giving the adults' Christmas presents this year. We have a large extended family with multiple kids, and it's a strain anyway. He was upset and said he would rather keep giving the presents, even though it could save up to $2,000. Add that cost and the giving birth/new baby cost, and it's just too much.

I took the stance that we're all parents now with financial responsibilities, some are retired and don't need anything (my parents' favorite refrain), and some are financially strained because of job problems from COVID. Focusing only on the kids just makes sense. What do you think? -- DELIVERING ON CHRISTMAS

DEAR DELIVERING: I agree that it's not only time to trim your gift list, but also necessary. With the new baby arriving during the Christmas holidays, his or her needs must take priority, at least this year and probably longer. Make sure the adult relatives know well in advance and there should be no hurt feelings.

DEAR ABBY: I'm educated, attractive, financially stable, easygoing, open-minded and still single at 61. I was engaged twice but never made it to the altar, and there are no children in the picture. When I reach out to people, they are delighted to hear from me, but I'm always the one who must initiate the contact. I am now the sole (almost 24/7) caregiver for my mother. We have a beautiful home and yard, but I am lonely.

I volunteered for years, but that stopped with the pandemic. Mom says I'm too smart and I don't NEED anyone. That may be true, but I WANT someone. People don't like me, and I don't know why. Any suggestions would truly be appreciated. -- LONELY FOR TOO LONG

DEAR LONELY: People may not reach out not because they don't like you, but because you have set a pattern and they are used to it. They may also be busy and concentrating on their families.

The pandemic and quarantine upended the majority of peoples' lives, and your nearly 24/7 schedule caring for your mother hasn't helped. Although I hesitate to contradict your mother, no one is "too smart." Women who "need" someone too often settle for "anyone" and are no happier than you are. Be grateful you're not in a situation like that.

For insight about why people aren't more proactive in reaching out to you, start asking your friends -- in a nonconfrontational way, of course. And get back to volunteering as soon as you're able. You might also want to consider online dating, which has been successful for countless individuals.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.